The DC Universe has been through a rocky path when it comes to big blockbuster movie releases. Gone are the days of old when it was a significant event to see DC superheroes featured in their own movie. But that doesn’t mean there won’t ever be a few good movies to remind us why we love to see DC heroes spring into action on the big screen, especially when their adventures bring together generations of superhero fans. The Flash is a movie with a heartfelt story about acceptance, thrusting us into a time-traveling adventure that will also tug at nostalgia heartstrings. Although The Flash has been dogpiled with controversy, none of that affects the wild ride DC fans will go on that is surprisingly interesting, despite some lingering issues along the way.
Ezra Miller reprises their role as Barry Allen, also known as The Flash, after the events of Justice League. While helping out his fellow league members Batman and Wonder Woman, Barry realizes his speed can allow him to travel through time. He begins to wonder if this ability will be able to help him change the past and rescue his mother, which he’s strongly advised not to do so by Ben Affleck’s Batman. But without much hesitation, Barry runs fast enough to go back in time to when his mother was alive and prevent her death through a simple action. In doing so, Barry inadvertently affects the multiverse and creates a cascading effect that thrusts him into a time-traveling, multiverse adventure that will have him face many personal truths, as well as put him face-to-face with variants of other DC heroes.
The biggest thing about The Flash is how well it puts Barry Allen through an emotional journey about accepting the death of his mother, as well as the domino effect it had on his father and other parts of the DC Universe. Many aspects of the story are similar to films like Back to the Future, where affecting time can have detrimental consequences in ways that are often unintentional. Ezra Miller has double and triple work to do playing Barry Allen and an alternate-world version of the character that is younger and less mature. The banter and goofy moments between the two will make you laugh, or cause you to think about the ramifications of Barry going back in time, which often leads to something goofy or weird happening shortly after.
But while some of the subject matter can get very heavy, especially when talking about accepting the loss of a loved one, the humor of Barry in awkward moments and goofy dialogue keep things lighthearted when it needs to be. The funny moments never overshadow or outright ruin any time the film needs to be serious in tone, which works out beautifully towards the middle and latter half of the story.
The one major part of the story that falters is when certain aspects of the plot come to a screeching halt. Characters we meet early on disappear after being around for a short time, never to affect the rest of the story or come into play towards the end. At the same time when we start meeting alternate versions of characters we know, they are only around for a short time before completely disappearing, being left out completely from the climax and the rest of the story. What’s more is how characters that are mentioned more than a few times or referenced by someone never appear or affect any events that happen throughout the movie, even in places where it would make sense of them to do so. While The Flash takes place in the same universe as Justice League, there are definitely steps taken to avoid or outright ignore some heroes that would definitely play a major part in Barry Allen’s story.
But what about the action? Not only do we get to see the powers of The Flash, specifically the speed force, in a more dynamic and cinematic way than ever before, but we also get to see more of The Flash’s powers in action. From zipping through the streets and saving people, to phasing through solid objects, and of course time travel to the past; The Flash gets a more faithful treatment of his powers than in previous iterations of the character in movies. But Barry isn’t the only one who gets phenomenal scenes to showcase his prowess and heroics, every hero we come across gets some big moments that will have you on the edge of your seat with excitement.
This leads to one of the biggest parts of The Flash that intrigued many people to see it, the return of Michael Keaton as Batman. Without a doubt, Michael Keaton still embodies his version of Bruce Wayne pulled right out of the 1989 and 1992 Tim Burton films, with time having passed greatly for the character. His movements, mannerisms, and tone of his voice are exactly how one would picture the character in an older fashion. But that doesn’t mean he’s any slower or hits any less hard than he did in his films, this Batman still packs quite the punch.
One portion of the movie when Barry Allen travels through time and makes his way to Wayne Manor with his alternate self turns into a massive amount of fan service for those who watched the original Batman films. There are tons of nods and Easter eggs for fans who loved that version of the character, including many of the rooms from those films recreated in heavy detail. Both the exterior and interior of that version of Wayne Manor are exactly as you remember it, despite some characters like Alfred Pennyworth not being around.
We see The Batcave, the 1989 version of the Batmobile, and all of the suits that Bruce Wayne has used throughout the years. However, most of this is general fan service that doesn’t get used or become significant in the film. Despite how much love is shown for the Batmobile, we never see Batman use it in the story. The Batwing is the only vehicle Batman uses in the scenes that follow, despite having all of those wonderful toys shown on screen and hyping up their inclusion. And yet for a brief period of time, it feels like Michael Keaton’s Batman steals the movie from Ezra Miller’s The Flash. Michael Keaton just attracts most of the attention in each scene he appears in, even when big things are happening for Ezra Miller. His presence as Batman is just that significant to DC fans, and it definitely shows. Even if you’re not a big Batman fan, the action and dialogue of these scenes will have you more engaged with the film than everything else until the big climax at the end.
The unfortunate thing about this is that other characters don’t get enough opportunity to really shine because of this. Sasha Calle does a good job as Kara Zor-El, better known as Superman’s cousin from Krypton called Supergirl, but she only remains present in one section of the movie. Sashe plays the character with a heavy weight on her shoulders after having gone through so much for so long, which feels like an interesting juxtaposition to Henry Cavil’s Superman. After Barry, his alternate self, and Batman rescue her from imprisonment; Kara joins the group in helping to stop an invading General Zod.
With no Superman in this world to help them, Kara needs to take on the role of Earth’s protector from Zod, but her conclusion in this major event never feels like a true resolution by the time Barry’s story comes to an end. Michael Keaton’s Batman is given a small sendoff that will divide fans of the character, but at least he was given some sort of conclusion, unlike Kara. After certain things happen, she’s just completely dropped and forgotten as the rest of the big climax for Barry and his variant takes hold of the movie.
It’s at the very end of the movie that the DC fan service ramps up exponentially. There are some major cameos and nods to past versions of DC heroes and properties, with a few major ones that have already been spoiled in the news. Because of Barry Allen’s actions to go back in time, causes a ripple effect throughout the multiverse that pulls in classic and iconic versions of characters like Superman, Batman, and others. Some of the cameos that appear will have DC fans shouting for joy at being able to see some of their beloved renditions of characters return in surprise fashion, while others they may have never seen before will shock at their inclusion. Classic eras of DC movies will finally bring together heroes that should have been together but never got a chance to be shown on the same frame, while others offer one last goodbye to those who followed their adventures for decades.
A significant part of enjoying this is prior knowledge to knowing about DC films and characters, including those that are played by actors who never got to fully realize their versions on the big screen. If you don’t know the backstory to why those versions of major characters never were brought to the big screen, then your excitement for these cameos will be significantly reduced. One might even argue some will experience confusion along with shock at why some actors are playing certain characters because of this.
In the aftermath of a massive DC celebration, does The Flash end in a good place? When things wrap up and Barry finally solves the bigger issues he caused, the conclusion of this story is bittersweet. Things are solved and have an emotional rounding by the end, but one cannot help but think about the larger DC universe here despite Barry Allen making things right. With major changes happening to the DC universe in movies, the pseudo-promise of more to come feels hollow. The truth is that we might not see this version of The Flash or this version of the DC universe again on film, which will disappoint many who have felt invested in these stories for a long time. The Snyder-verse, as it’s been called for this version of the Justice League, may end on a sour note despite never fully getting into a stride to have moments like the ones that this movie tries to make.
The Flash is a fun movie for DC fans that have been hoping to see a better-quality story told in this cinematic universe. It has great action scenes, funny moments that might give you a laugh, hype-inducing and nostalgic fan service, and an emotional thread to guide you along. For some, that might be more than enough to enjoy the ride this movie brings you on, but for others, it means many more things that won’t have them leaving the movie with much optimism for what comes after. A wild stinger at the very end will grab your attention for a brief moment before quickly fading away. The movie is good for what it is, but only if you take it alone without the context of this version of the greater DC universe.
What do you think of The Flash? Will you be seeing the movie in theaters? What were you hoping to see in this side of the DC universe films? Leave your thoughts down below in the comments and let us know!
The movie has a lot of great action scenes and fun moments of dialogue between characters, with an emotional story at the core about acceptance. There’s some great nostalgic fan service for DC fans, but only if you know enough about DC films beforehand. A few moments in the story stumble and completely forget about some characters by the end. A couple of big surprises will get you excited, but won’t leave you with much optimism for the cinematic universe at the conclusion.
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